President Donald Trump said Thursday that “some very good numbers” are coming soon on U.S. economic growth. If he’s talking about the second quarter, he’s probably right, though the figures are about six weeks away from publication.
While White House spokesman Sean Spicer said he couldn’t elaborate on Trump’s comments, there are wide expectations among researchers that the rate of expansion in the April-to-June period will rebound from a first-quarter slowdown. The pace of gross domestic product gains was dragged down earlier this year by what many analysts saw as temporary factors such as warm weather that resulted in lower utility bills.
Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News earlier this month expect GDP to expand at a 3 percent annualized pace this quarter, based on the median estimate. That would be more than double the 1.2 percent rate in the January-to-March period and above the 2.1 percent average since the recession ended in 2009. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta has a GDP tracker forecasting 3.2 percent for the quarter. The Trump administration is aiming for 3 percent sustained growth within a few years.
“I think some very good numbers are going to be announced by the way in the very near future, as to GDP,” Trump said at a White House event.
On Tuesday, he made similar comments: “When the numbers are announced, the GDP numbers, I think they’re going to be shockingly good, based on all of the facts that we’re hearing and based on the enthusiasm from the businesses, because they’re doing well. And we’ve just started.”
There are some caveats to the outlook: The quarter still has half a month remaining, and until the Commerce Department releases its report on July 28, a variety of fresh figures on employment, consumption, production and inflation will cause analysts to tweak their growth estimates. In addition, volatile components of GDP, such as trade and inventories, can cause swings in the data that don’t necessarily reflect the underlying health of the economy.